By Edith Tucker

The Berlin Sun

GORHAM — Town Manager Denise Vallee told the board of selectmen at their February meeting that town officials had arranged to hold the town’s traditional second-Tuesday-in-March town meeting at 7 p.m. in the Gorham Middle School/High School gym where 135 masked voters can socially distance both in individual chairs and in the bleachers. Hand sanitizers and extra masks will be available.

The town report went to the printers on time and is expected to be available on time, she said. The board was pleased that no changes were made to any the warrant articles.

Town elections will be held earlier in the day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the second floor of Gorham Town Hall.

The selectmen voted unanimously to approve public safety contracts with nine unincorporated places that were successfully negotiated with Coos County, including the Mount Washington Auto Road: $15,750 in the first year and $17,500 for each year from 2022 through 2024.

The selectmen also unanimously approved buying a brand-new 9.92 Holder sidewalk plow for the Gorham Public Works Department. The machine, already to slated for replacement, blew a wheel motor that was estimated to cost between $6,000 to $7,000 to repair.

Vallee and DPW superintendent “Buddy” Holmes recommended pushing forward the purchase date of a new machine on which all the town’s existing attachments will fit.

Only a single supplier — Chadwick-BaRoss of Concord — turned out to be available under a no-bid $144,317 contract with a five-year guarantee, using funds in the capital reserve fund. The town’s 10-year capital plan had predicted the cost would be total $160,000.

Vallee also announced that through the concerted efforts of many, the final report of the Community Action Plan is now available on the town website.

The report explains plan’s four major goals: (1) Sustainably develop and create connectivity between Gorham’s Androscoggin Riverfront, Main Street and surrounding forests; (2) Make the Androscoggin River a stronger asset by enhancing its appeal for non-motorized water sports; (3) Galvanize community support and participation (residents and business owners) to attract and incubate more recreation-related businesses to diversify the town’s four-season/year-round outdoor activities; and (4) elevate Gorham’s reputation as an outdoor recreation hub.

Branding, wayfinding and selecting a logo are likely next steps, and pre-screened logos will be presented to the selectmen, Vallee said.

An exciting opportunity to work with the Northern Forest Canoe Trail has come up, thanks to the nonprofit receiving a grant from the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund to study what options there are to develop a bypass system or a shorter portage route at the lower of the town’s hydro-power-dams, possibly on the Hogan Road side of the river, according to the Community Action Plan report.

Although the current rocky, 6/10ths-of-a mile-long portage location is doable, its inconvenience sends a lot of paddlers to Shelburne.

“A shorter portage could attract more users and spur economic development,” the report states. “A feasibility study will address considerations, such as depth of water, liability, etc. Any development will require local and regional environmental impact assessment.”

That will include the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that has already started on its relicensing efforts.

Vallee reported that she had earned the certificate required for those undertaking federal grant administration, which has become a significant activity for town managers.

The next selectmen’s meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 8.

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